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Video Surveillance for the Next Generation

by Hu Yoshida on Jun 18, 2012

When I am not travelling, I like to unwind before I go to sleep by watching recordings of real life TV mysteries like 48 Hour Mystery. The other night it was about a man who was hacked to death and wrapped up in a tarp in his garage. No one knew who did it until the police happened to see a surveillance video from a hardware store where the man’s school teacher wife is seen buying a hatchet and a tarp in the middle of the night. (My wife believes that this man’s wife was upset because the husband was either away travelling or watching stupid TV programs when he should be spending quality time at home.)

I was reminded of this when I heard Chris Jensen speak at our Hitachi Information Forum in Canada last week along with our partners CISCO and Microsoft. Chris is a retired police officer who used to work in undercover and surveillance, and is now working for Hitachi Data Systems as a physical security solutions consultant. He talked about the days when surveillance was done with analog cameras and stored on videotapes or cassettes. Surveillance at that time had nothing to do with IT. It was the security guy’s responsibility to manage the storage of this data by stacking the cassettes in cardboard boxes and manually scanning them on VCRs. Now that surveillance is being digitally recorded, stored and analyzed on network servers with digital storage systems, the security guys are looking to IT shops for help in storing, managing and analyzing this data. Businesses are also finding value in this type of data that goes beyond security and surveillance.

Many retailers are using videos to understand buyers and their shopping patterns to maximize their shopping experience. Structured data from point of sale terminals can tell you what was sold, but it can’t tell you if the buyer was a man or a women or how old the person was. It also does not tell you about the service that was provided by the store employee. Combining structured data with the unstructured data from videos may be able to improve the quality of the service and improve future sales. (Why is that middle-aged woman buying a hatchet in the middle of the night?)

Since I am a lifelong San Francisco 49ers football fan I was really interested when Chris showed me how the 49ers are using a high tech video surveillance solutions backed by advanced Hitachi Compute Rack 220 and AMS 2100 midrange storage to replace their legacy analog video system. Working with IPVision, a leading provider of enterprise class IP video surveillance systems, a high density, full function, platform was created with Axis Video Encoders, OnSSI Ocularis Network Video Recorder, and Hitachi servers and storage. Because a large amount of data is transmitted over the network, the server and storage needed high performance, reliability, availability and integrated management to reconfigure storage and servers when data volumes spike or change. A dedicated CISCO switching network infrastructure is also a key part of this solution. With the help of Hitachi GSS services the initial system migration was done in one week, in between home games. You can read more about the San Francisco 49 success story here.

Video Surveillance for the Next Generation

Today this provides a flexible platform for future integration of video analytics, access control, custom text based messaging and mobile video clients to improve the safety and football experience for 49er fans as well as fans from visiting teams.

In a few years the 49ers will be moving to a new, larger, stadium in Santa Clara and you can be sure that we will be there supporting their big data requirements along with our partners. You can also be sure that as the importance of surveillance videos increase for security and other business reasons, the management of the surveillance data will be transferred from the security department to IT. If this hasn’t happened already in your IT shop, get ready for the next generation. Hitachi has consultants like Chris who can help you.

I can hardly wait until August when football season starts and my wife and I can spend quality time watching the 49ers.

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Comments (1)

Ben Hutchinson on 21 Jun 2012 at 2:02 pm

(whilst I work for HDS I’m not in GSS)

That’s very cool to see our kit deployed in an end to end solution that isn’t for IT infrastructure solutions. How well is it positioned to horizontally scale with a possible upgrade to the cameras, say from SD resolutions to HD or are they already HD? The numbers I’ve been able to find suggest an up to six fold increase in file size, not sure about compression or transmissions requirements. I guess that fits within a 2100 -> 2500 window of scale.

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